The Isle of Skye is one of those places that you see in pictures on Pinterest on in travel magazines and wonder how much of it is photoshopped. It’s just too beautiful to be true. It’s an island on the western coast of Scotland and part of what the call the Hebrides, which is a series of islands on the coast.
Skye is known for its breathtaking landscapes, and that’s exactly why I wanted to see it. That, and the half marathon, of course!
From Glasgow, I took a 7-hour bus ride to Portree, the capital of Skye, where the half marathon was taking place, and also where I would be staying. I had decided to do something a bit different than my recent trips and go camping! The Torvaig campground was only 1 mile from the town centre and was only £7 a night!
I’m glad I did. The campground was well-mantained, with hot showers, wifi, laundry, a friendly staff and the most amazing view of the Black Cuillin mountains. It was far enough from town that you felt deep in the woods while being conveniently close!
If you’re on foot like I was, there’s a network of busses designed for school children and adapted for the rest of the citizens so you don’t need a car to make your way around the island. The busses will bring you to every tourist spot and reaches almost every town and village!
My first day there I spent getting oriented and went hiking around the harbour. Everything was so beautiful and green! I also did a boat tour to go see some of the wildlife around the island and got to see a sea eagle, some seals and lots of little sea creatures. I wasn’t lucky enough to see dolphins though… Next time!
One of my most memorable days on the island was spent on a day tour of the island with the Skye Scenic Tour
s company (if you ever go, definitely go with them, they’re great!). We visited all the sights to see and with our local tour guide, we got all the history and stories that came with each place.
One of my favourite stories is of the Dunvegan Castle: for a long time in Scotland there was a clan system that basically governed all of Scotland. Each clan had its own tartan and land rights. On Skye, the clan MacLeod owned most of the lands. The Chiefs have been living at Dunvegan for over 800 years and in the early 2000s, the 29th chief was getting worried about his castle: the roof was leaking badly, and it was starting to fall apart. After all, it was an old castle. He brought it experts to survey and see what needed to be repaired and renovated. After a week, the surveyors gave him a long list of things and at the end, an estimated cost of 19 million pounds. The chief obviously didn’t have that kind of money, so he decided to sell part of his land. The famous Black Cuillin mountains were on MacLeod lands, so he said they belonged to him and could do with them what he pleaded. So he went to Edinburgh and set up an ad: 10 million pounds for the Black Cuillin mountains on Skye. People weren’t very pleased and eventually the government made a deal to help finance the repairs if part of the castle became a museum during the summer and the mountains stayed open for the public.
Only in Scotland, am I right?!
I also went for a wee dip in the Fairy Pools, and though the water was freezing, I was pretty proud of myself! This crazy Canadian went swimming in her underwear in freezing water at the foot of a mountain range. Doesn’t get much better than that!
My last day on Slye was short: I rushed first thing in the morning to pack up my wet tent (it rained every day) and went to visit the Castle before I had to head back to Portree to catch my bus back to Glasgow.
What’s amazing about this island is that there’s only about 10,000 people living there all year, but it doubles during the summer season with the tourists. It’s also totally normal to go a couple of days without any electricity as there’s only one power station for the island and the closest hospital with emergency care is in Inverness, a 2-hour drive away.
It’s such a wonderful place, and a perfect city-break. I fell completely in love and I can’t wait to be back on the Isle of Skye.
To finish off, here’s a bit of a conversation I had with a local about the weather on Skye:
“How much rainfall do you get?”
“Lots. We don’t use numbers… We just say lots.”
“How much sunshine do you get?”
“Depends on the rain.”
“What about the average temperature?”
“Anything above 22 degrees is a heat wave and if it lasts longer than 3 days it’s a drought.”